Diabetic neuropathy and my experiences
If you have diabetes, then you can develop neuropathy which is a type of nerve damage. Nerve fibers in your entire body can become injured because of high blood sugar. Generally it’s your legs and feet nerves that are affected and that’s why diabetic neuropathy and feet go together. You may feel tingling or numbness in your feet.
Diabetic neuropathy is not to be confused with peripheral neuropathy. With peripheral neuropathy, you are not be aware of any how hot the water is in a hot water bath with numbness so you should use caution. Your risk of infections of your legs and feet increase because you can develop cuts, wounds, fissures, or calluses without being aware of them.
I’ve had numbness in my feet for years now. I’m here to help you learn what I have experienced. I’ve been to every kind of doctor and treatment I could find. Between my physician, podiatrist, chiropractor, physical therapist, acupuncturist, neurologist, and having MRI’s and nerve compulsion tests of the lower back and finally visiting a spine institute, I finally found the answer. Spinal stenosis and herniated discs are the cause.
So for me it’s not diabetic neuropathy (thankfully) but it doesn’t mean that I don’t watch my blood sugar and diabetes. The one grateful thing I can say is that I am not in pain. I go for spine surgery soon but I don’t take my eye off diabetes and its’ complications. Neuropathy is not reversible.
Peripheral neuropathy symptoms
- Poor coordination
- Muscle weakness, twitching, or cramping
- Stabbing, burning, or electrical shock like sensations
- Any symptoms being worse at night
Diabetic neuropathy symptoms
- Loss of balance
- Possible foot deformity
- Sores or blisters
Questions to ask yourself:
- Have you had any experience with tingling, numbness, or an electrical shock like sensation in your feet and for how long?
- Do you know how long you’ve had diabetes and were you not addressing your diet properly, or exercising enough?
- Have you been religious in taking your medications?
If yes is the answer to even one of these questions, then you may have or have had for some time diabetic neuropathy.
How to prevent common foot problems from diabetes
As much as 75% of people who have diabetes could have at least one form of nerve damage. Circulation that has been compromised causes damage and the nerves are even more defined due to high blood sugars. This can appear in the following ways:
- Your inability to discover certain objects in your shoes including but not limited to: tacks, paper clips, rocks, and pins and these can lead to injuries and infection.
- If you are unable to detect heat as in a foot bath or even a heating pad.
- Sensation of vibration or reflex of the tendon
- Numbness, tingling, skin cracking, and dry skin all from the loss of sweating and this begins in the feet and travels up the calf
- Your toes can claw and cause foot drop from weakness in the muscles.
Caring for your feet
- Wash and clean your feet and make sure you do it every day.
- Moisturize your feet (not in between your toes though)
- Always wear slippers or shoes to avoid injury by stepping on anything that could cause this.
- Make sure the toenails are trimmed because you do NOT want an ingrown toenail. I had it one time and it was SO painful.
- Be sure that you are wearing the proper size shoes and that you have enough room to move your toes. I found wearing a slightly bigger size is better. You don’t want to cramp your feet in shoes that are too small.
- Always check the inside of your shoes to see if there are any small rocks or pebbles inside. Otherwise you may not notice it and a small injury turns into a bigger problem.
- Prevent any trauma by wearing the proper fitted shoes. Tennis shoes or orthodics will do.
- Wear thick socks.
- NEVER wear open shoes such as sandals.
- Be careful of athlete’s foot. Use a powder that will remedy this situation.
The importance of a foot exam
You should have a podiatrist exam your feet on a regular basis but you should also perform your own foot exam daily.
- After washing your feet, sit where you’re comfortable and can see well with plenty of light.
- Cross one foot over the top of the other leg and dry it thoroughly and that includes in between the toes.
- Turn your ankle so that you can see the sole of your foot. Use a hand held mirror if necessary. You want to make sure that you can examine your foot totally.
- For the soles of your feet you are looking for any lumps or bumps. This could be a possibility of a bone or muscle issue.
- Check the balls of your feet for any bumps or different patterns. This part of the foot absorbs a great deal of pressure in your daily walking. You want to avoid any corns or calluses.
- Your heels can have very cracked, or rough dry skin. Examine thoroughly for any small cuts that could become infected.
- Feel your entire foot for any abnormal “bumps” and to make sure that one part of the foot is not any hotter or colder than the other parts.
- Spread your toes apart to look in between. Squeeze the balls of you toes gently to test your blood flow. You’re looking for a normal color to return in a few seconds. If not, circulation could be an issue.
- You want to check your toenails for ingrown nails. This is NOT something you want to develop because it IS painful. Use toenail clippers or have a nail care expert perform it.
- Always and I repeat always wear shoes outdoors. If you’ve ever walked on hot beach sand or asphalt, you know how hot it can be. I never walk outside without foot protection because there could be anything on your walkway or lawn that you could step on.
- It may sound silly, but sun screening your feet is critical. If you get a burn on your feet and it peels, it can become infected.
- Do NOT wear sandals or flip flops. You will be prone to blisters and that can lead to all kinds of complications.
- Check your feet after being outdoors and look for anything from bug bites to splinters. Attend to these immediately.
Treatments for neuropathy
Some of the following should be or must be approved by your physician:
- Medications such as gabapentin or lyrica.
- Over the counter pain relievers
- Topical treatments. I’ve had good experiences with capsaicin cream, but you must be careful because you may start out with some skin irritation or burning. Don’t put on too much and it will lessen in time.
- Anti depressants may help they bypass the processes in your spinal cord and brain so that you may not feel the pain.
- Different therapies may aid in you’re not feeling the pain.
- Herbs. Some herbs can help reduce neuropathy pain, but some may interact with medications so check with your doctor first.
- Acupuncture. This may help but you may need several sessions to get any relief.
- Surgery as a last resort.
I’ve enjoyed sharing my experiences with diabetic neuropathy and feet and hope that you’ve learned something. It is nothing to be taken lightly and keeping watch of your feet is extremely important. For something that would give you even more help with neuropathy, check this out! If you have any questions or would like to leave a comment, it would be appreciated and I will respond quickly. Thank you!